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Journal stands by controversial interview

Hot News journal is mired in controversy after publishing a segment of an interview with Burma’s Agriculture and Irrigation Minister Myint Hlaing where he slated parliamentary representatives.

Editors at the paper say they are determined to publish the rest of the piece in coming issues despite being order by Myint Hlaing to refrain.

The minister earlier this week issued an apology after calling the country’s lawmakers ‘uneducated’ and ‘thoughtless’ in the interview with the periodical that was published in late March.  Myint Hlaing said the remarks were made in goodwill.

Ma Ma, chief editor of the Hot News Journal, said the publication held off from printing the remainder of the interview as the controversy unfolded, but are now prepared to release the rest of the piece.

“We’ve been bombarded by phone calls from our readers – they want to read the rest of the interview so we have to consider them,” said Ma Ma.

“Previously we put it on hold because we felt like we should be considerate to him as well because he was in hot water,” said the chief editor. “But recently we received a fax from the ministry signed by the director-general colonel Kyaw Swe in a very condescending tone asking why we were so keen to publish it. We now have decided to publish it.”

After apologising, Myint Hlaing said he had made the remarks during a personal conversation that was off-the-record and accused the journal of being unethical.

In an editorial published yesterday in Hot News, the publication criticised the minister for not taking responsibility for his own words. Ma Ma said the publication would seek legal action under existing laws if necessary.

“The minister claimed that we didn’t publish his [quotations] exactly – but that was not the case. We published everything he said word-for-word. This can damage our credibility among the readers so I have put up a statement under my name that making any wrongful accusations can harm the credibility of our journal,” she said.

Ma Ma is the daughter of retired lieutenant general Khin Maung Than and also works for two other magazines, Face and Paephuhlwar.


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